Gastric Sleeve Surgery FAQs

The sleeve gastrectomy procedure, also known as gastric sleeve, helps to restrict the amount of food a patient eats by reducing their stomach size. This is a minimally-invasive surgical procedure that makes the stomach roughly the size of a banana.

It is a more simple operation than gastric bypass because it doesn’t reroute or reconnect the intestines in any way. It also doesn’t require planting any band internally.

What are some advantages of having Gastric Sleeve surgery versus other weight loss surgeries?

According to University of California, San Diego, there are many advantages of having Gastric Sleeve opposed to other including the fact that weight loss occurs faster with sleeve then banding (Gastric Sleeve Results). They also report there are fewer food intolerance then with gastric banding and no risk of slippage or erosion of a band because there is no implanted device placed internally.

The risks for gastric sleeve are much lower than the gastric bypass surgical procedure, but the amount of weight loss is still comparable despite the reduced risk of complications. Gastric sleeve is also a minimally-invasive procedure as compared to gastric bypass and gastric banding.

Is gastric sleeve surgery reversible?

According to WebMD, since this surgery does not involve rerouting or reconfiguring the intestines, there is no need for reversible. It is the safest surgical procedure available for weight loss procedures and is the least invasive.

Will I qualify for gastric sleeve surgery?

Most institutions follow the National Institutes of Health (NIH) guidelines to determine if a patient is eligible for weight loss surgery. According to Orange Regional Medical Center, a patient must have a body mass index greater than 40 (100 pounds overweight) or between 35-39.9 with one obesity-related disease including sleep apnea, high blood pressure, high cholesterol or Type II Diabetes. The patient must have tried and failed to lose weight the traditional way and must be mentally prepared for surgery.

Typically, most hospitals will only operate on individuals 18 years and older; however, some teenagers have begun to endure weight loss surgery at various hospitals. This will vary per hospital.

Who is gastric sleeve surgery not recommended for?

According to WakeMed Health & Hospitals, gastric sleeve surgery may not be right for those with Crohn’s Disease, ulcers or have an inflammatory disease or gastrointestinal tract condition. Those with bleeding in the esophagus or stomach may not be able to have this type of surgery. Anyone who has cirrhosis, pancreatitis, an abnormal stomach or intestine or who has had gastric surgery before may also not qualify.

What are some risks and complications associated with this surgery?

According to the National Institutes of Health, there are some risks and complications associated with surgery. They include: heart attack or stroke during the surgery itself, blood clots in the legs, blood loss, infection in the bladder, kidney or lungs, gastritis, vomiting, poor nutrition and bowel blockage.

Is this surgery expensive and will insurance cover it?

Many insurance companies do in fact cover weight loss surgery especially if the patient has related conditions that may contribute to future health problems. The health plan may cover all or a portion of the cost of the surgery.

Your surgeon can tell you if your surgery is a covered benefit. In many instances, a patient must document previous weight loss attempts, their health conditions that are associated with their obesity and current medications they are taking before their insurer approves the procedure, according to Griffin Hospital.

What tests are done before surgery begins?

To help avoid complications, an assessment of a patient’s physical and psychological health is done including a dietary assessment; psychological evaluation and an EKG are standard tests, according to Spectrum Health. Other tests may include a blood test, urine test, gallbladder ultrasound looking for gallstones, sleep study, GI evaluation, pulmonary function test or a cardiology evaluation.

How long will I be in the hospital following surgery?

Most patients will be in the hospital for 2-3 days following surgery. This may vary depending on the patient’s health and if any complications or symptoms arise.

How much weight can I plan to lose with this surgery?

Weight loss typically begins when the liver-reducing diet begins before surgery occurs. Post-operative weight loss becomes more rapid during the six to eight week period following gastric sleeve surgery. Many patients lose an average of 65% of their excess weight from 12-18 months after surgery, according to Spire Manchester Hospital.

What kind of follow-up can I expect with gastric sleeve surgery?

According to the Center for Metabolic Health and Bariatric Surgery at Brigham & Women’s and Faulkner Hospitals, patients will need to follow up both with their surgeon and a dietitian to reap the most benefits from Gastric Sleeve surgery. A special diet will begin after surgery which begins with a liquid diet moves to semi-solid foods and later solid foods after a long period of time 6-8 weeks minimum.

Patients are encouraged to eat three to four meals each day with at least one protein in each meal. They also should drink 2 quarts or more of water daily. As the patient heals, they may begin to exercise for at least 30 minutes daily and 3-4 days weekly of weight resistance training is also suggested. Find the best meal plan and bariatric recipes that fit your dietary needs!

Will my diet change after surgery?

According to the Hospital of Central Connecticut, a high-protein, low-fat diet is advisable. Eating small portions and eliminating all sugar, sweets, carbonated drinks and alcohol will lead to greater weight loss. Ultimately in the months before surgery, patients are asked to eat healthier to be in good shape for gastric sleeve surgery.

Two weeks before the surgery itself, a liquid-only diet is done in order to help shrink the size of the liver. After the surgery, a patient will have liquids-only diet and will incorporate soft foods gradually over a four to six week period.

Should I be taking more vitamins after bariatric surgery?

According to the West Penn Allegheny Medical System, a multivitamin twice daily as well as calcium, iron, Vitamin D and Vitamin B12 are all recommended daily for a patient’s entire life following bariatric surgery. 1,000-1,500 mg of calcium daily is recommended. Find bariatric vitamins that work best for you.

A regular iron pill should be taken at least two hours apart from a calcium supplement and with food. A monthly B12 shot can be obtained following surgery as well as a weekly nasal spray. Some patients choose to take a 500 mcg supplement daily instead. 1,000 IU of Vitamin D is recommended. Chewable vitamins are advised for the first three months following surgery, a patient may switch to non-chewable if they desire after that time period.

Will I need plastic surgery following my weight loss surgery?

After excessive weight loss, many patients have arm lift surgery or body lift surgery to create a more shapely profile free of excess skin. This depends on the amount of weight loss and the person’s overall body fat content prior to surgery. Not all patients require plastic surgery. Most recommend waiting at least a year to 18 months following surgery to have surgery to ensure all major weight loss has occurred.

Will I lose my hair?

Not always. According to the University of Missouri Health System, if a patient does not get enough protein after weight loss surgery then protein malnutrition may occur and hair loss will happen. Protein supplements can help supplement the deficiencies in the body and lower the risk of hair loss.

When can I take a shower or bath?

Patients may shower and use soap. Be sure to pat any incisions dry after showering. Do not take a bath or emerge fully in water for at least one month after surgery. Check with your surgeon before doing so.

When can I drive?

Driving can occur after you have no pain and do not require any pain medication anymore. Typically this occurs a few weeks after surgery but may vary depending on the patient.

Can I take my regular medicine?

According to WebMD, a variety of medicines are safe after gastric sleeve surgery. They include (and may not be limited to) Robitussin, Sudafed, Tylenol, Benadryl, Dimetapp, Tylenol Cold or Extra Strength, Gas-X, Imodium, Phazyme, Colace, Dulcolax, Enemas, Peri-Colace, Claritin and Milk of Magnesia.

What to expect after the gastric sleeve surgery?

After your surgery, it is normal to feel pain when you drink water in your first two or three weeks. This situation is normal because your stomach is healing and this movement is not normal you will feel cramping and you have to know that these symptoms will get better each day.

Something abnormal would be to feel worse each day even when you just drink water then have to contact us to review if something is wrong or if it’s normal to feel this way days after your surgery.

How soon will I be able to walk?

After the surgery, you have to start walking as soon as you can maybe 3hours but no more than 4 hours after surgery. Because we use a gas for the laparoscopic surgery and after the laparoscopic surgery your bowel will stop and you will get inflammation in your abdominal wall and abdominal bowel you have to start walking to recover all these situations around your lining.

This movement will eliminate the gas you have inside you and then the pain will be less and you will recuperate faster. It’s important to know that if you have difficulty walking the best thing is to move even if you have to move to a bed. You have to move your body to recover faster.

What to eat after the surgery?

After bariatric surgery, you need to follow all the rules. These consist of your diet after surgery that you have in the first four weeks. This is a diet that will be changing each week. After two weeks you will obtain almost all the kinds of food which you like to eat. You have to take care of the proportions of the amount you like to eat.

In the four weeks you have to follow up because in the first week it is clear liquids the second week is for all kinds of liquids the third week is for puree food and the fourth week you will be testing all kinds of foods that you want. After that, the portions that you eat will need to be in smaller portions. Then you have to eat regularly and consistently in the day.

The best option is to eat every three hours and then you will eat five times (during the day) if you follow up this situation you can obtain your vitamins your proteins that you need for continuing your regular energy and then you can continue with your regular life.

What is the purpose of staples? Will having staples affect my ability to have an MRI? Do the staples affect metal detectors or other scanning devices?

After the surgery like a bypass or sleeve, you will have inside you staple. Some patients ask if this kind of staples has something else for your body or if these types of staples will interfere with other studies that you may have in the future like MRI or CT Scan. I can say to you that nothing happens with these staples it is very safe to use these staples they don’t have secondary situations after surgery.

What happened to the lower part of the stomach that is bypassed?

After a bypass we left a section of your stomach inside you we do not remove it. Some patients ask what happened with this stomach? What happened to the remainder of the stomach? Nothing happens to the stomach we leave it because in case of some other disease or situation you may need it.

This is stomach that maybe we will need to reconnect to do other procedures after years if you need it. We don’t have to remove it because your stomach continues producing the gastric acid and urine semen’s you need to metabolize and the common digestion of your filter.

Can I get pregnant after weight loss surgery?

After the bariatric surgery you can get pregnant with no problem you have to wait at least one year and a half to have a good or healthy pregnancy; because in the first year after surgery you are losing weight so fast. Then you have to wait until you are at a steady weight and then your body will have to be in a steady condition to get pregnant.

Then you can have a healthy pregnancy. It is important to know that some bariatric patients in some cases can’t get pregnant because of the obesity cysts. Pregnancy issues may persist because of the fat you have inside you even if you get pregnant you could have cysts in between pregnancy or complications like diabetes for you or your child. It’s better for you to have the obesity surgery before then you can have a pregnancy with a better situation.

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